Chingford News

‘They’re ruining my house’: Chingford homeowners demand council to reassess speed bumps

Vibrations caused by heavy goods vehicles and buses going over speed tables are causing damage to homes, residents say

By Marco Marcelline

Ita O’Neill in her Chingford Mount house

Chingford residents have said that vibrations caused by heavy goods vehicles and buses going over speed bumps are harming their wellbeing and damaging their homes.

Ita O’Neill, who has lived in her home on New Road since 1983, is just one of many Chingford residents who are calling on the council to reassess the use of speed bumps as a traffic calming measure. The speed bumps have been imposed as part of the council’s ambitions to put in place 20mph speed limits in the borough’s residential streets.

Ita told the Echo that she has consistently been woken up at all hours of the night because of the bumps. The 80-year-old emigrated to London from Ireland in the 1960s, and raised her children in the same house. “I have worked very hard in my life to purchase, keep and maintain this house… but [these speed bump vibrations] are ruining it,” she said.

The vibrations have led her to contemplate the feasibility of moving in with her children, who live in Hertfordshire. “I was thinking about moving up there but I’ve been here all these years, and I’m attached to my church and I have all my friends. If I go up there, I won’t know anybody. It’s a massive move at this age,” she said.

Ita said she had battled severe depression and suffered from sudden memory loss caused by disruption to her sleep. “Sometimes I’m trying to talk and I can’t complete my sentences because I can’t remember what I was going to say. [The vibrations] are damaging my brain, I’m telling you.”

About a year ago, Ita hit a low point. “I couldn’t cope. I’m the senior vice president at the church and I play darts but I just couldn’t cope with different things.”

Lee Gilbert, who has lived on Old Church Road for close to a decade, said that numerous cracks have appeared in her home since a speed table was installed outside her home. Pointing at several hairline cracks in her main bedroom, Lee said: “If the council don’t do anything about these speed bumps, we will chase legal avenues and seek insurance claims.”

Lee added that she had developed “terrible anxiety” about the damage being caused to her home from the vibrations, and often wonders whether the ceiling will fall or if the front of the house will collapse.

She said: “People might think, ‘Oh, you look alright, you’re always bubbly’, but basically I’m terrified. It’s our home. We can’t afford to move or get another mortgage at our stage in life and we don’t want to move because we’ve got a really good and supportive group of neighbours.”

A speed table on Old Church Road, Chingford

Lee’s neighbour Shanta Prasad says she has similarly struggled to sleep due to the vibrations, and cannot recall the last time she slept through the night. Shanta, who has played a key role in raising concerns about the impact of the traffic measures, described the council’s use of speed-related deaths to “force” speed bumps on residents in Chingford as “outrageous and disrespectful”, since “unfortunate road fatality circumstances have no bearing” on the speed bumps.

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She also accused the council of having “manipulated” the methodology used in a public consultation on the speed bumps, by combining neutral responses with positive ones to present the case that the speed bumps were unopposed by a majority of respondents.

Meanwhile, Tony Thorne said he and his wife have had to plan their journeys in a bid to avoid the “poorly maintained” speed bumps, which were “hell” for his wife who suffers from spinal arthritis.

And a Waltham Way resident, who preferred not to be named, said that the possibility of getting any sleep in her converted loft was “out of the question”.

The “mentally drained” Chingford homeowner has tried many ways of managing such as moving rooms, but none have worked: “My daughter even gave me some CBD oil – that didn’t do any good.”

Chingford MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith has taken the issue to Parliament. In a speech in December, he called for 20mph zones to be rolled out on a street-by-street basis rather than a “blanket” one.

He said: “The unintended consequences – the vibrations, damage to property, noise and interruption to sleep, as this is often at night – of vehicles going over these significant speed humps are why I believe that the 20mph zone should be considered road by road, not on a blanket basis.”

In October, the council rejected a Conservative-led motion calling for a review into the impact of speed humps on residential properties, with deputy leader Clyde Loakes saying speed humps and tables were the “only option” the council had to slow down vehicles.

In response to the residents’ claims, Cllr Loakes said: “We are not permitted by law to use cameras to enforce the speed limit. Last year the government blocked Wandsworth Council’s trial scheme of using cameras to issue fines for speeding. This leaves speedbumps as the only enforcement method available to councils. The decision to progress the 20mph zone was ultimately based on the significant road safety benefits.

“Multiple studies have found road humps are unlikely to cause significant damage to buildings. We do know for sure that vehicles travelling at speed cause significant damage to people. We also know our measures are working – the number of people killed and seriously injured on the borough’s roads has fallen from 97 in 2018 to 70 in 2022.”

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